Retailers could be ‘breaking law’ over returns for disabled consumers

Some retailers could be breaking the law over returns for disabled consumers, according to a Which? investigation.

Although businesses are required by law to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate those with disabilities, the investigation found that inaccessible drop-off points and unexpected return fees were some of the difficulties being faced by disabled consumers.

A joint survey with the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC) revealed that nearly half of disabled consumers who needed to return an item in the past 12-months have experienced issues.

The research, which surveyed 844 disabled consumers in September, found that one in five felt that a retailer did not make reasonable adjustments to facilitate their return, while around one in seven said they couldn’t return an item via the suggested returns method in the past year.

Half of those who complained to a retailer felt it was hard to make contact and Two thirds said they were dissatisfied with the retailer’s response after contacting them.

“As the festive season arrives, disabled consumers could be facing unreasonable barriers when they do their Christmas shopping, leaving them at a significant disadvantage,” said Reena Sewraz, Which? money and shopping editor. “Retailers and returns services must up their game and ensure disabled consumers’ needs are not forgotten.”

One respondent that uses a mobility scooter said that he had struggled to return a pair of shoes he bought from Amazon using a drop-off point at a local newsagent which had no ramp.

Which? spoke to a wheelchair user who said she has “stopped buying stuff” after experiencing a lack of access when trying to use InPost lockers to make returns.

“Returning a product is an ordinary transaction that every consumer should be able to make,” said Gordon McCullough, chief executive, RIDC.”The fact that there are still barriers for disabled people in doing this shows there is still a long way to go for some retailers in understanding their entire customer base and having their processes and procedures designed in an inclusive way.”

Amazon said that customers can input specific delivery preferences on their account, including designated safe spaces, requesting delivery to a neighbour or choosing delivery to a collection point.

InPost said it is testing new functionality to allow for better accessibility and locker compartment selection features.

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